The Maritime-Hockey North Junior C Championships get underway on Wednesday night with one game when the host Tignish Perry's Construction Aces welcome the Pownal Redmond Enterprises Red Devils back to the Credit Union Arena for an 8 o'clock start.
The two island teams will be joined by the Chester Clippers (Nova Scotia), Hampton Hurricanes (New Brunswick), and Kivalliq Canucks (Hockey North), who will all get their tournament started on Thursday.
The Nova Scotia champion Clippers had a dominant season in 2011-12, with a 28-0 regular season and only one loss in the playoffs as they cruised to the provincial title. The team scored an average of over nine goals per game and had four players with more than 75 points in the regular season (Brandon Snow , Kyle Dilosa , Corey Young , and Justin Norris ), who will be dangerous in Tignish.
The Hampton Hurricanes won their provincial title before the season even started. The other teams from the 2010-11 New Brunswick Junior C league folded before the start of 2011-12 and the Hurricanes ended up playing this season as a member of the New Brunswick Junior B league where they had a 3-23 record in the higher-tier league. They will be playing their first Junior C league game of the year on Thursday afternoon against Chester. Since they were not a member of the Junior B league, they were not eligible to complete in their playoffs and as a result have not played a league game of any kind since February 25th, so this week will be a much anticipated one for the Hampton team.
Clipper captain, Corey Young
The Kivalliq Canucks won a best-of-three mini-series with the Qikiqtani Sharks two weeks ago to earn their spot in this week's event. After winning game one of the series decisively, the Canucks lost game two before winning the rubber match on March 25th. The Canucks have been a staple at this event since it's first year in 2003, but after struggling to compete in the early years, they've earned a reputation as being a team with strong determination and a never-say-die attitude that has surprised teams in recent years. Although they have not made an appearance in the final yet, this could be their year.
As for the island representatives that get it all started on Wednesday night, the Red Devils come in as the PEI league runners-up despite a record-setting regular season with a 27-0-1 record. As for the Aces, they peaked at the right time this season. After a sub-500 regular season, they took the long way to the league title with their semi-final going seven games and the final going six after a four-game series in the opening round for a total of 17 playoff games. The Aces have been at this event four times (2003, 2005 (as hosts), 2008, 2010), and have been strong contenders each time, while this year will be the first for the Pownal franchise.
Follow the tournament progress at MaritimeHockeyNorth.com, and get live play-by-play (starting Thursday) at HomeTeamSports.ca.